It can be fascinating to read about the same animals, or body parts, or weather phenomena as seen through stories from different literary traditions. Here, four about fish.
A Fish Story from Iran
The Little Black Fish, by Samad Behrangi, adapted by Pippa Goodhart, illustrated by Farshid Mesghali, and translated by Azita Rassi.
In 1974, this classic book won the Hans Christian Andersen Award; it has recently been re-issued by Tiny Owl in a new English edition.
A political allegory and coming-of-age. As Tiny Owl writes: “While his fellow fish are too scared to do anything different from their set routine, Little Black Fish swims over the edge of the pool, into the stream and river which will show him much more of the world. He meets wonders and adventures, dangers and beauty. He makes it all the way to the sea, and finds his answers.”
You can also take a video tour of the book:
A Fish Story from France
April the Red Goldfish, by Marjolaine Leray, trans. Sarah Ardizzone
In April the Red Goldfish, we find a Shakespeare-quoting, punster, gender-shifting red goldfish with suicidal tendencies.
In a conversation with The Guardian, Sarah Ardizzone explains the choices she made while translating this book, originally written in French.
As Ardizzone explains:
A Fish Story from India
8 Ways to Draw Fish, by Luisa Martelo
8 Ways to Draw Fish is an art activity book that introduces children to a variety of Indian art traditions including Meena, Gond, Madhubani, Patua and Bhil. Through tracing, patterning and colouring the fish, children can immerse themselves in eight different art styles, while the text provides information about fish of different species.
A Fish Story from Turkey
The Dance of the Eagle and the Fish, by Aziz Nesin, adapted by Alison Boyle, translated by Ruth Christie, illustrated by Kagan Guner.
This is a traditional Turkish tale, of a fish-queen and an eagle who fall in love and must surmount terrible odds. (After all, one needs the air and the other the sea.) In the words of the reviewer at Outside in World, “the colourful watercolour illustrations by Kagan Güner represent a style that has not been previously seen in picture books for children in this country and which will bring pure joy to the eye.”